10/10/2001 12:00AM

Pimlico prepares for Million card


Entries were drawn Wednesday for Saturday's 16th running of the Maryland Million, the second biggest day of racing in the state, at Pimlico Race Course.

Ninety-eight horses entered the 11 races, which are worth $1.05 million in purse money. The Maryland Million races are restricted to the progeny of Maryland-based stallions.

For the first time since the early 1990's, the Maryland Million will be run at Pimlico, rather than Laurel Park. Structural problems in the Laurel Park grandstand delayed the track's fall meet from opening until Oct. 17. Five of the first seven Millions were run at Pimlico, while the last eight were held at Laurel.

Topping the card is the $200,000 Classic, a 1 3/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and older horses. Among the nine horses entered in the Classic, the 10th on the program, is Testing, the defending champion. The likely favorite in the Classic, however, is Concerned Minister, who flopped last year as the favorite and finished fifth. Following a nine-month layoff, Concerned Minister has run two solid races this year and appears primed for a big effort in the Classic.

Cynics Beware, who upset last year's $100,000 Turf, a 1 1/8-mile grass race for 3-year-olds and up, will try for a repeat when he faces 11 others.

La Reine's Terms, third in the 1999 Turf, may be the horse to beat based on his excellent record - 4 for 5 - over the Pimlico turf.

The other races on the card are the $100,000 Lassie, $100,000 Distaff, $100,000 Oaks, $100,000 Ladies, $100,000 Nursery, $100,000 Sprint, $50,000 Sweepstakes, $50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap, and the $50,000 Starter Handicap.

Travis Dunkelberger, the leading rider at Pimlico, is named on horses in 10 of the 11 races. Leading trainer Dale Capuano has runners in five of the races, including Harbor of Grace, a winner of his last four, who is cross-entered in the Classic and Turf.

By holding the Maryland Million at Pimlico, the Maryland Jockey Club is able to take advantage of Pimlico's infield, which will be opened to the public, as is the custom on Preakness Day. Admission to the infield is $3 .

The MJC has teamed with the Maryland Horse Breeders' Association and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to support relief efforts following the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon on Sept. 11. A portion of Saturday's gate proceeds and other revenue associated with the Maryland Million will assist victims of the Pentagon attack.

Post time for Saturday's Maryland Million Day is 12:30 p.m.